The contraceptive pill is a method of contraception.

The contraceptive pill is usually a pack containing 21 or 22 pills. Sometimes it contains 24 or 28 pills. There are many different packagings (different colours, rectangular, round,...).

It contains 2 hormones. These hormones prevent ovulation. They also make it more difficult for sperm cells to enter the uterus

Contraceptive pill

How to take the contraceptive pill

A pack with 21 pills should be used in the following way:

  • Take 1 pill every day at the same time. The days of the week are usually marked on the back of the pack. You can check that you did not forget to take a pill.
  • After 21 days (3 weeks) the pack is finished.
  • For the next 7 days (1 week), you do not take any pills. This week you will start to bleed from the vagina (menstrual period). You are also protected in this week.
  • After 7 days (1 week) you start a new pack of pills, even if you are still bleeding.
  • Continue following the previous steps. 
Take 1 pill from the pack every day at the same time.
After 21 days (3 weeks) the pack is finished. For the next 7 days (1 week), you do not take any pills. This week your menstrual period starts. After 7 days (1 week) you start a new pack of pills, even if you are still bleeding.

Reliable

The contraceptive pill is very reliable if used correctly.
The contraceptive pill can be less safe, if:

  • You do not always take it at the same time (especially if you take the pill more than 12 hours after the time you usually take it);
  • You vomit within 3 hours of taking the pill;
  • You have heavy diarrhoea a few hours after taking the pill;
  • You are taking antibiotics, laxatives or pills against epilepsy. Check this with a doctor or pharmacist;
  • You forget to take a pill. 

Use a condom if you have sexual intercourse when the contraceptive pill is less safe.

I forgot a pill, what now?

The following plan only works for pills with 2 hormones, not for mini pills!
If you take the mini pill and you miss a dose, contact your gynaecologist.
You can find more information on what to do if you have forgotten to take a mini pill under Mini Pill below.

Start

Does it affect your health?

The contraceptive pill contains hormones. These hormones do not generally affect your health.
In some cases it is better, however, to choose another method of contraception. For example: if you smoke more than 15 cigarettes per day and are aged over 35, if you have a high risk of getting a heart disease or vascular disease. Ask a doctor for advice.

The contraceptive pill does not make you less fertile. If you want to get pregnant, you just stop taking the pill.

The contraceptive pill does not make you fat. 

The contraceptive pill does not increase the amount of body hair.

During the first months of use, you may have side-effects such as tender breasts, light bleeding between 2 menstrual periods, headache and nausea. These usually disappear on their own. If they do not, consult a doctor. There are different types of pills. Together with a doctor, you can find the pill that suits you best.

Your menstrual periods often become less heavy and less painful.

Protection against HIV and STIs

The contraceptive pill does not protect against STIs or HIV. Only a condom can protect you.

Condom

Mini-pill

You can also take the mini-pill. It is similar to the regular contraceptive pill, but the pack contans 28 pills instead of 21.

The mini-pill contains 1 hormone. The hormone makes it more difficult for sperm cells to enter the uterus and reach the egg cell.

The most common side-effects of the mini-pill are irregular menstrual periods and bleeding between 2 menstrual periods.

Mini-pill

How to take the mini-pill

Take the mini-pill in the following way:

  • Take 1 pill every day at the same time;
  • When you finish a pack after 28 days (4 weeks), start a new one the next day. You continue to take the mini-pill during your menstrual period.

The mini-pill is less safe if you forget to take it for more than 12 hours after your usual time.  

Take 1 pill from the pack every day at the same time.
When you finish a pack after 28 days (4 weeks), start a new one the next day. You continue to take the mini-pill during your menstrual period.

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